This I Believe

Piotr - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on February 15, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in keeping a positive outlook. I adopted this mentality because of a box of colored pencils.

I was not exactly prepared for class on my first day of kindergarten. I did not even have a decent, complete set of crayons on the first day of class. Crayons ended up being the roots of my kindergarten education.

Not only did I not have my crayons on that late September day, I didn’t have the vocabulary the teachers expected me to have by that age. My parents spoke very little English and at the time and so did I, at least compared to the other kids in my class. The teacher took an especially long time explaining certain words and ideas to me, like what red was after I had borrowed her colored pencil. That’s the only word I managed to spell on my first day in elementary school: red. All of the friends I made that afternoon were halfway through their boxes of markers before leaving. I had stayed after school later than them that day, as well as every other day in kindergarten.

After I came home, I told my parents I didn’t like school very much and that I wasn’t very capable of what my teachers required for me to do in class. I didn’t want to go back the next day; I was expected to have a worksheet of colors properly labeled the next morning. My father looked at the sheet and told me school wasn’t as hard as I thought it was. Things would only get better from today, he assured me. I didn’t believe him. I didn’t believe it was possible to get much better at school, much less it being simple any time soon.

My father spent an entire hour helping me with my homework that night. He taught me all of the colors I had to know along with some of the more difficult names for them, like violet for purple. Afterwards, he quizzed me on how to spell the colors’ names until I could write each one of them correctly. I was even woken up with a quiz on the words ‘yellow’ and ‘orange’ the next morning.

From that point on, learning ran smoother for me. After a few weeks, I didn’t need any more help on my homework. I learned more subjects as the school year crawled along, and by the next year I was in accelerated courses. Even though it was much more challenging, I began to enjoy the material more.

I eventually graduated at the top of my class in grade school. It wasn’t because I had gotten a head start, or because I was naturally exceptional at most of the subjects. The only reason I applied myself in school was because I believed that if I did, I would understand things the next morning that I couldn’t grasp the day before. Believing in the bright side motivated me to go to school the next day.